JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It is with a heavy heart that I share this news.
Michael Liles has passed away. He was found dead in his Panama Park home Tuesday at 62. His doctor believes he died of natural causes.
Mike was well-known in the Jacksonville community after taking over as the executive director of the Justice Coalition. It’s an amazing organization that helps crime victims and their families.
He joined after experiencing his own personal tragedy. In 2017, his wife and love of his life Debbie, was murdered in their home. She was a beloved music teacher and mentor.
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Instead of turning to anger or depression, Mike devoted his life to helping the families of other homicide victims through the Justice Coalition. I saw him up early at court hearings and out late at candlelight vigils. He always answered his phone. He always greeted me with a smile.
Mike became a personal friend of mine. He’s been a friend of my father’s for years.
He devoted his life to others and to Christ. He wasn’t ashamed of his beliefs. Instead of sulking, he always told me how lucky he was to have had so many years with his wife.
It didn’t take long to bond with Mike. I felt like I knew him well, right away. He supported me and I supported him. While he did a good job hiding it, deep down you could feel the pain in his heart.
Mike spent his final weeks pushing for Marsy's Law for Florida, a bill of rights for crime victims.
“Pray for his family. Pray for the victims, that’s who he was helping. Pray for Mike,” Justice Coalition chairman Robert Bracewell told me. “Now, he is with his wife, Debbie.”
I spoke with other friends of his who were shocked and devastated by the news.
The couple leaves behind six adult children. Funeral services will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Deermeadows Baptist Church Sanctuary.
Debbie’s suspected killer is in jail, awaiting trial.
Thank you, Mike, for being a pillar of strength, an example of compassion and an angel to so many.